Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya

It is difficult not to compare a Japanese writer writing unusual tales to whom I think is the master of Japanese unusual tales – Haruki Murakami – more so because he is one of my favourite authors. A collection of unusual short stories, with about half of them centred around relationships between men and women, Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya is a good effort with interesting themes.

From the wife who takes up body building to get her husband’s attention, the secret of flying with umbrellas, couples who start to look alike and a husband made of straw, Motoya’s concepts are definitely intriguing, but I felt the stories could have been executed better. Some of them went on longer than necessary, while others felt far too short. And I don’t know if we were meant to like any of the protagonists because none of them really came off as likeable, except for the retail assistant helping the lady who just would not come out of the dressing room. Many of the stories were left hanging, and while Murakami does this too, Motoya has perhaps not quite mastered the technique of leaving her readers with an impression of how the story could possibly go once she ends them.

It’s possible that something may have been lost in translation – I’m not reading this in its originally written language after all and I am nowhere near fluent enough to try. I don’t know if I’ll read Motoya’s other stuff – maybe I’ll consider it if the story seems interesting enough, because I would like to see if she gets better with more books under her belt.

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